May 8, 2021

‘Losing a child is like having your heart torn out’ – letter by Wicklow mother grieving loss of three children goes viral

A beautiful and moving letter written by a Wicklow mother grieving the loss of all three of her children has gone viral online.

The letter, which was penned by Bray resident Kathleen Keyes (62), was published in the Irish Times yesterday.

Since then it has gone viral and has been read by more than 80,000 people within a day of being published.

Kathleen told the newspaper she wrote the letter after marking the first anniversary of the death of her last surviving child Fergal, who died from complications of cystic fibrosis, just before Christmas last year.

All three of Kathleen’s children had cystic fibrosis. Gráinne died on January 3, 2002, aged 15 years. Darragh died on April 10, 2012, aged 19 years. Fergal died on December 2 last year, aged 31.

In her letter, Kathleen said: “At night I sleep to the rattles of an empty house. Even the wind has a faraway cry when it rattles at the window. My three children, my daughter and two sons died from Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease of the lungs. They lived a full and spirited life together, their illness did not define them. They were witty, intelligent, and gifted with homegrown talents that filled this home with music and liveliness.”

Kathleen said losing a child “is like having your heart torn out and your stomach emptied. Grief gets in the way of daylight, not to mention the nocturnal dark.”

She describes Christmas as being like “a black surround, without tinsel, while the masses are plumping up the shopping streets”.

Her letter concludes by saying: “Grief can be another day on the wheel, when paradoxically a blue sky can unveil and a white egret appears in the branch. I have named him Doy after my youngest son, whose pet name was Doy. He will fly and land with me as I walk beside the river in the valley behind our home. Before Doy died, his dark eyes looked ahead and he said, “Look for me in the trees. I will be there in the trees.”

Kathleen completed a masters degree in poetry about a year ago and hopes to write a collection of poetry as well as memoir of her experiences.

To read Kathleen’s heartbreaking letter in full, visit:

PHOTO: Stock image 

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